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Justice Minister to push for tougher punishments for child sex crimes

Finland's Justice Minister, Antti Häkkänen, says he wants stronger punishments for sex offenses against children.

Antti Häkkänen
Antti Häkkänen Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen has called for an overhaul of laws around sexual offences committed against children, with tougher punishments and new offences to be considered.

Last autumn, a few months after taking office, Häkkänen asked civil servants to come up with proposals on stricter punishments for child sex crimes. Experts have now presented their recommendations for new offences covering the most serious cases.

If a case involves both rape and child sexual abuse, there could be a new offence of aggravated rape of a child, carrying a sentence of between four and 12 years. The proposal also looks at raising the maximum sentence for child sex abuse from four to six years.

Outcry prompts reform

"Children should be protected from violence and sexual assault by all available means," said Häkkänen in a statement. "I asked officials for proposals on toughening the law on sex crimes. I regard these proposals as viable and I intend to advance them."

Häkkänen's original call for tougher sentencing came in the midst of a public outcry over the case of a man convicted of abusing a ten-year-old girl. He was not convicted of rape, but rather aggravated sexual abuse of a child. An aggravated rape charge was dismissed by the court because of a lack of evidence that the girl did not consent.

The prosecutor had sought an aggravated rape conviction on the grounds that the man had used force in the attack, and that the victim was too young to properly defend herself and resist her attacker.

The appeals court ruled that youth was not sufficient grounds to rule she was helpless, and that there was insufficient evidence of force being used.

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